In her running series, Tao Minister and mind-body strength expert Tammy Wise is exploring the various areas of the Psyche-Muscular Blueprint. With each column she teaches us to connect to a different area of our internal systems so that we may achieve our best selves. Here, she explains how to create your own me-space – and why concentrating on your triceps empowers you to do it. (Read all the way down to receive a free mind-body video from BodyLogos!)
By Tammy Wise
My marriage of ten years was crumbling and I’d finally summoned the courage to end it. I was completely disheartened, frustrated, and not at all like my strongest self; I felt vulnerable and exposed like a crab with no shell. And yet, here I was, at the gym, obsessed with chin-ups!
Why chin-ups, of all things, which are particularly difficult, at a time when I was feeling my weakest? I wanted to get stronger!
Even more than strength, I wanted to construct a moat around me to shield me from my circumstances. Relentlessly I also exercised my triceps—the muscles designed to push things away. I had spent most of my life basing my decisions in guilt, other people’s expectations, and a desire to please. Now, I desperately needed space to figure out what I wanted.
My triceps built what I now call me-space.
We can get so used to caring for others we forget what our own wants are. Simple things like what to have for dinner or which movie to watch can cause indecisiveness to the point of skipping them altogether. There are moments when the only way home to ourselves is to take the wants of others out of our immediate scope.
Establishing me-space before the big decisions, like where to live or which job to pursue, is essential to create the life you want!
It may not be necessary to isolate yourself away from your loved ones (I’m not advocating divorce!), but the importance of me-space does warrant a regular practice that helps you to weigh in on what is real for you. Triceps are responsible for pushing undesirables away physically and psychically. Triceps muscles are also big talkers. They physically cry mercy way before they are exhausted, making them a voice of warning.
The BodyLogos technique looks at your physical form as an emotional storage container that is always voicing what you feel. Through your workouts you are able to sculpt your emotional outlook byway of physical challenge or surrender. (A full explanation of the BodyLogos Psyche-Muscular Blueprint is explained in this previous article).
What Do Your Triceps Want You To Hear?
The experience of isolating the triceps muscles is one of distancing your chest, and by association your heart, away from an outside resistance. Imagine extending an arm out in front of you, palm open as if to stop traffic. As the triceps actively contract up the back of the arm, the biceps simultaneously extend down the front of the arm. This assertion energetically grounds you through the posterior body while it lifts the anterior body. This opposition of energy is committed to keeping your chest’s position lifted above the assertion to push away an outside resistance.
Here is an opportunity to empower your ability to say and mean “No, thank you.” To create positive change in your life, you first clear out the influences, external or internal, that are not supporting where you are now and where you want to go. Connecting these influences to a muscular challenge, by integrating active meditation into your workouts, enables you to gather your will, strength, and determination to deliberately and graciously let go of what was and make room for what is to come.
There are those overwhelming times (like my divorce) when it’s hard to be clear on what it is you need to let go of. If everything feels equally important, meditate on creating space. Notice how giving the mind-body connection a direction to feel in, rather than to think in, will reveal what is important to you. By simply relaxing into your intuitive and instinctual natures with the intent to create me-space, the aspects of your life that are stifling you become clear. The answers are within you and will inform you, when you direct your attention and movement deliberately.
The triceps muscles can be tricky to isolate. The significant range of motion that both wrists and shoulders bring to movement can obscure the simple extension of the elbow joints in a triceps exercise. To isolate your elbow extension, stabilize these surrounding joints. This will give you the reference point needed to recognize the triceps muscles and enable you to place greater responsibility in their isolated muscular strength.
Elbow Isolation Exercise
- Lie supine with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Rest the front of one wrist over a large dumbbell (8-10 lbs.), placing your fingertips gently on the floor.
- Allow the shoulder to relax and the weight of your shoulder blade to surrender into the floor.
- Slowly lift your elbow off the floor as you gently press your fingertips into the floor.
- Maintain the relaxed and weighted placement of the wrist, shoulder, and shoulder blade.
- Your triceps can now be the sole initiator of the elbow’s lift. Repeat until you can cleanly isolate the triceps muscles.
How to Free Your Triceps’ Message
The sole purpose of the triceps muscles is to push away things that are not in your best interest. Realizing what isn’t working—be they physical objects or mental habits, goals or dreams—means rejecting choices you once made. Letting go of the old, however, can feel uncertain.
To push away a block is to recognize the viewpoint that created the block, and then decide differently. Be resolved in taking responsibility for creating your internal conflicts—only then can you eliminate what is blocking your heart.
To successfully eliminate what was, stretch beyond it with your triceps muscles’ flexibility. First, it is necessary to extend your shoulder joint to its full range, than you can continue into the triceps’ range of motion. You can use your opposite hand to stabilize the elbow in the shoulder stretch, or lean against the wall to effortlessly maintain the shoulders’ range so you can concentrate on the triceps muscles’ stretch.
Overhead Touchdown Stretch
- Hold an elbow with arm extended overhead as close to the ear as possible, or stand facing a wall approximately 6 inches away with one arm extended upward.
- For the ladder, place one hand on wall at chest level to support your torso’s weight and the other arm straight above your shoulder with the palm of hand against wall.
- Lean your body into the supporting hand, directing the armpit of extended arm toward the wall, until you feel the shoulder gently stretch.
- To continue into the triceps stretch, keep your shoulder blade dropped and bend the extended arm’s elbow, touching the same shoulder or shoulder blade with fingertips.
- Relax the shoulder blade down as you continue to reach the elbow up. Breathe the stretch into the triceps muscle.
Letting Go Creates a Rainbow of Possibilities in the Future
The elbow’s hinge joint splits the triceps’ contraction and biceps’ release, as you push objects away from you. Once the biceps release away from the shoulder and chest muscles, the triceps’ strength can connect cleanly with the outside resistance. This connection creates an orbit of movement that can then unlock and channel out any held conflict (tension) in the chest and shoulder muscles that are barring your ability to let-go of what is blocking your heart from being lifted above your challenge or circumstances.
Here’s the tough part… Pushing away undesirables is a death of something in your life that may cause you to over-assert your biceps, chest or shoulder muscles, as not to unveil feelings of loss or disappointment held in your triceps muscles. If you don’t surrender the biceps, chest, and shoulders’ assertion, they can keep you in a state of bitterness or resentment. To encourage the strength to let go, remember that connecting to what is, rather than what should be, is a new beginning for you to grow from. Becoming real can be uncomfortable at first.
Meditate on these phenomena when working the triceps muscles:
- What becomes irrelevant when you clear space in your environment?
- What adjustments in your posture naturally happen when you release your biceps, chest and shoulder muscles?
- What transforms in your mental viewpoint when your triceps connect with their full strength and flexibility?
- Where does your attention go when you create me-space?
Experience the space and freedom you have created for positive change to unfold.
The downward force through the posterior body when engaging the triceps is what propels your body upward. Propelled from behind, like a bird springing into flight, this power is motivated by what feels like angel wings.
This dynamic opposition between anterior and posterior planes frees your heart energy and propels it upward. Triceps exercises push away what the heart deems insurmountable. This clears a path for you to connect sincerely as you move through life.
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Tammy Wise is a Tao Minister, mind-body strength expert, and founder of the BodyLogos holistic fitness method. Her writing and methodology has been widely featured in media including New York, TimeOut New York, Fitness, Shape, and Natural Health magazines. She is currently writing and producing a BodyLogos book and 3-D video system for online. Learn more about her training, holistic treatments, and products at bodylogos.com, or follow her on Twitter at @BodyLogos.